Methodology: How Guests at Tortuga Lodge Can Help Local Kids Learn English in a Way that is Beneficial to Both the Kids and The Guests.
For years I have been trying to solve the puzzle of how to have guests who are only spending two or three days at our Lodges effectively help local kids learn English.
I quickly found out that the methodology for teaching was simple enough to learn in a few minutes, but what has had me stymied has been how to keep track of the kids’ progress with a different teacher every couple of days. If the guests did not have a way of knowing how much English the kids knew, the effort was bound to fail. If the guests knew what the kids knew, it seemed to me that there would be a good chance of success.
So I set out to find a methodology. I talked to a couple of owners of language schools; they saw me as competition.
I found and called a university professor who was a recognized expert in English as a second language (ESL). He told me that ESL teachers should have a masters degree (Otherwise the kids would get the pronunciation wrong.) He offered to put me in touch with a couple of his PhD. candidates.
In March I was thinking of putting the problem to all of you in the blog, when talking to a guest about something completely unrelated, she mentioned that she was experienced at teaching ESL. I told her my problem. She answered with one word, “Easy!”
She did not know what she was getting herself into. She’s been working on the methodology ever since and will be coming to the lodge for two weeks in the beginning of July to put it into practice.
Her name is Kathleen Arnett. Here is her explanation on how it is going to work:
The guests at the lodge will help kids learn English the same way parents help their children learn new words, verbs, short phrases and tenses: The children points/asks; the guests responds. Parents do not need special training to help their kids learn language, and the guests won’t need a Master’s in English to help the local kids learn English.
To keep track of the kids’ progress I am preparing a simple scheme that will follow typical language development in children.
For example Level 1 might correspond to children at the age of 18 months who have the following:
- Vocabulary of 20 words.
- Speaks in nouns.
- Repeats words back to parent,
- Repeats phrases.
- Is able to follow simple commands.
- Is able to use two prepositions.
- Combines words into 2 word sentences.
- 30% of their speech is intelligible, except to mama who is pretty sure she understands everything.
Level 2 might correspond to children at the age of 24 months:
- 66% to 80% of their speech is intelligible.
- They have a vocabulary of 150-300 words.
- They can use two pronouns correctly, (“my” and “mine”).
- They may well responds to the “show me the” command.
- Rhythm and fluency are often poor.
- Volume and pitch of voice is not yet well-controlled.
Improvement in this last area would be one of the indicators that the child has moved to the next level.
Each child will have their own folder that will contain a chart with an explanation of the levels and space for each teachers to record progress in each lesson. The folder will also have suggestions and materials for activities appropriate for child’s level at the time.
I am very excited about working with the guests at the Lodge helping these kids with communication skills that will benefit them for their lifetime.
Kathleen will be at the Lodge from July 6-22. We have written to guests who are already booked at that time offering them the chance to reserve a slot. The response has been quite encouraging.